Such being the case, shall we not recognize that what we usually consider to be incidental and natural happenings may involve the works of the enemy behind the scenes? We shall readily see that Satan is really trying to frustrate us at every turn and oppress us in all things. What a pity we have suffered so much from him in the past without knowing that it was he who made us suffer. Now part of the most urgent work of ours today is to generate a heart of hatred towards Satan for his cruelty. We do not need to be fearful lest our enmity towards Satan becomes too deep
. Before there is the possibility of our overcoming we must maintain in our heart a hostile attitude towards him, no longer willing to subject ourselves to his oppression. We ought to understand that what we have suffered at Satan’s hands is a real grievance which must be avenged. He has no right to harass us, yet he does it anyway. This is indeed an injustice, a grievance which cannot remain unavenged.
The Cry for Vindication
Now after this widow has suffered much, she comes to the judge asking for justice. This is something we ought to learn to do. We do not come to earthly judges, imploring them to act for us. No, we ask our judge who is none other than our Father God in heaven. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh (2 Cor. 10.4), therefore we will not employ any earthly or fleshly means against the instead of showing impatience, anger or even hostility towards them, we should pity them for they are but the instruments of Satan. Let us see that in spiritual warfare the weapons of flesh are utterly useless. They are not only useless, but whoever uses them will without fail be overcome by Satan.
Spiritual weapons are of many kinds as we find recorded in Ephesians 6. The most effective among these weapons is prayer, mentioned in verse 18. True, we are without strength and therefore unable to avenge ourselves of our adversary. Yet we may pray to our God, asking him to avenge us. Prayer is the best offensive weapon against our enemy. Through it we may preserve our line of defense intact. Through prayer we can also attack our enemy and inflict great loss on his plan, work, and power. This widow realized that if she struggled with her adversary by herself she would not prevail because she, being a weak widow, could never withstand a powerful rogue such as he. In the same way, if God’s children strive independently without relying, by means of prayer, on God’s power and backing to accuse the enemy and to ask God for vindication, they too will be injured by fiery darts. In this parable the Lord Jesus teaches us the best way to overcome the adversary, which is to pray day and night to God—asking Him to avenge us of our enemy by judging him.
Prayer That Resists Satan
The Bible gives us many helps in this matter of praying against Satan. We will here examine a few of these passages so as to learn how to offer up such prayer.
We recall how in Genesis 3 God punished and cursed the devil after his first evil working. In that divine curse God plainly foretold that the head of the devil would be crushed by the Lord Jesus at the cross. Accordingly, whenever we suffer under the devil’s hands we may take advantage of the punishment meted out to him by praying: “O God, curse Satan afresh so that he cannot do what he pleases. You have crushed him in the garden of Eden. I ask You to curse him anew, placing him again under the power of the cross so as to immobilize him.” What the devil fears most is the curse of God. As soon as God curses, Satan dare not hurt us.
It is recorded in Mark 1 that when the Lord Jesus cast out demons He did not permit them to speak. Hence when Satan uses people to utter many words of misunderstanding or violence, we may ask the Lord to shut his mouth and not permit him to speak through them. Sometimes as we are preaching the gospel or teaching people, we may ask the Lord to forbid the devil to speak to our audience so as to induce them to doubt or to
resist the word of God. We remember the story of Daniel in the lions’ den. One prayer is really quite effective: “O Lord, shut the lion’s mouth; do not allow him to hurt Your own people.”
Matthew 12 furnishes us with another good word on prayer from the Lord: “How can one enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house” (v.29). We know that the strong man to whom the Lord refers is Satan. In order to overcome Satan we must first bind him, thus immobilizing him. We ourselves, of course, do not have the strength to bind the strong man and cause him to lose his freedom in resisting our works. But we can pray. In our prayer we may ask God to bind Satan and render him powerless. Each time we begin a work, if we first bind Satan in prayer our victory is assured. We ought always to pray: “O Lord, bind the strong man.”
“To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3.8). As soon as we discern a work of the devil, we can pray as follows: “O God, Your Son was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. How we thank You, for He has destroyed the devil’s works on the cross. But the devil is now again working. Please destroy his work in us, destroy his manipulation over our work, destroy his devices in our environment, and destroy all his works.”When we pray, we may pray according to the current situation in which we find ourselves. If we notice that Satan is working in us or family or work or school or nation, we can ask God to destroy his work in that particular area.
Jude records the word which Michael the archangel declared to Satan: “The Lord rebuke thee” (v.9). After that word was spoken Satan did not dare resist anymore. We may therefore use this same word in our prayer against him. We ask the Lord to rebuke the enemy. We ought to know that the Lord hearkens to such prayer. If we ask Him to rebuke, He will rebuke. We must also believe that after the Lord has rebuked Satan, the enemy is no longer able to withstand, for he is afraid of the Lord’s rebuke. When our Lord rebuked the wind and the sea, these elements listened to Him and instantly the wind ceased and the sea became calm. His rebuke produces the same effect on Satan.
In reading the Psalms we will see how effective is the rebuke of the Lord! “Then the channels of water appeared, and the foundations of the world were laid bare, at thy rebuke, O Jehovah, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils” (18.15). “At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep” (76.6). “It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance” (80.16). “At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away” (104.7). “He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up” (106.9). These Scripture verses show us the power of the rebuke of the Lord. If the Lord rebukes Satan, the latter can never withstand. When the enemy oppresses us, we should ask God to rebuke him.
It is written in Matthew 16 that for the sake of human affection Peter wished to block the Lord Jesus from going to the cross. The Lord rebuked him, saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan” (v.23). Whenever the devil makes use of our friends or relatives to hinder us—for the sake of human affection—from doing God’s will, we may ask God to put Satan behind us.
In Matthew 6 it is recorded that the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray in this fashion: “Deliver us from the evil one” (v.13). Since we do not know when the evil one will come to molest us, we ought to pray with this word.
Our Lord Jesus, “having despoiled the principalities and the powers, . . . made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it [the cross]” (Col. 2.15). Whenever we see the devil’s power on a rampage we should stand on the ground of the cross, asking the Lord to put the devil to shame once more. The devil has already suffered shame on the cross; so, based on his first humiliation, we can ask the Lord to put him to shame again. When the devil is shamed, he dare not raise his head. How then can he molest us again? Hence let us pray: “O Lord, we now stand on the foundation of the cross, asking You to again put the devil to shame.”
The Duration of Prayer
How long ought we to pray such prayer? We know there are many prayers which need to be prayed only once. But prayer which attacks Satan has no fear of being too much. The purpose of this parable which our Lord gives is that we “ought always to pray” (Luke 18.1). This judge avenges the widow not for the sake of justice nor for any other reason but because he cannot stand her continual coming. Does he not say to himself, “I will avenge her, lest she wear me out by her continual coming”? Consequently, this kind of prayer should be offered without intermission. Such prayer against the adversary is not merely to be uttered at times of special need, it is to be maintained as an attitude and breathed unceasingly in the spirit in ordinary days when all is calm. The Lord Jesus, in explaining the word of this parable, asks: “And shall not God avenge his elect, that cry to him day and night”? This kind of prayer must therefore be prayed day and night without ceasing. We should accuse our enemy before God incessantly, since we are told in Revelation 12 that Satan “accuses [the brethren] before our God day and night” (v.10). If he accuses us day and night, should we not also accuse him day and night?
This is true vindication: as the devil treats us, so shall we treat him. The cry of this widow continued on until the adversary was judged and punished and she was avenged of her grievance. As long as there is another day in which Satan still usurps the world, and so long as he is not yet imprisoned in the bottomless pit or cast into the lake of fire, we will not cease from praying against him. Not until God has avenged us and Satan has in truth fallen as lightning from heaven shall our prayer come to an end. How much it is the desire of God that we show deeper hatred towards the devil. Have we not suffered enough from him?!? He has shown his enmity towards us at every step of our way, he has caused us to suffer terribly both in body and in spirit; why, then, do we endure his persecution without speech or prayer? Why have we not risen up to accuse him before our God with words of prayer? We ought to seek for vindication. Why do we not continually approach God and accuse the enemy, thus releasing the long-suppressed exasperation? The Lord Jesus is calling us today to oppose the devil with prayer.
The Effect of Prayer
What is the effect of such prayer? Its effect is seen at two different times. First is the immediate effect. Every time the enemy is accused he is once again restricted by God from hurting us. Though after a lapse of time he may return, nonetheless during the period in which he is being accused, he does not dare do any violence; for each time we claim the victory of the cross, that victory becomes real to us once more. Every time we pray against the enemy, his work is again destroyed by the Lord and he himself is rebuked afresh by the Lord. If we pray one more time Satan will suffer one more loss. As God hears our prayer one more time, the profit of Satan is despoiled one more time.
Yet this effect goes beyond the immediate. The Lord Jesus lays stress here on the ultimate vindication. As we pray time and again, the Lord rebukes and destroys the devil again and again. But this is not yet final, that is, it is not once and for all; because the devil is only temporarily restricted; he has still to suffer the consequence of his final defeat. “And shall not God avenge his elect, that cry to him day and night,” asks the Lord, “and yet he is long-suffering over them.” This refers to Satan’s ultimate destruction. We know how the enemy will be imprisoned in the bottomless pit during the millennial kingdom. After wards he will be cast by the Lord Jesus into the lake of fire. Then is the ultimate vindication of the believers. For this reason, Christians today ought to offer up much prayer against the devil, in order that their grievances might be forever vindicated. Now is the time of the long-suffering of God. Even though He does hear believers’ prayers and restricts the works of the devil, He nevertheless has not wholly cast the devil out to make it impossible for him to molest us.
Work Together with God
We often reflect that God does all things according to His will. This is doubtless correct. However, it is only one side of the truth, not the whole truth. God works according to His will—that is surely His principle; but when He really gets to working He always waits for His children to express their sympathy with His will through prayer before He does anything.
How God needs men to work together with Him. He truly has His own will, yet He wants men to ask according to His will. Then He will quickly accomplish the work of His determinate will. Without the prayer of His children, which indicates their working together with Him, He will not perform alone what He wills to do. To destroy the devil is God’s intention. To avenge the believers is undoubtedly His will. Nevertheless, He waits for His children’s prayers. Just as the judge in the parable would not have avenged the widow if she had not come and pleaded her cause, so God today will not avenge the believers speedily if they do not pray against Satan. We do not know exactly why this is so, and yet we do know how much God likes His people to work together with Him. Naturally, accusation must be based on fact. But as believers are indisputably being harassed by Satan, they may accuse him before God of the ill-treatment they have received. And this will put him to death.
The Last Days
When the Lord Jesus finished speaking this parable, He concluded with a final word: “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?” Judging by this statement, it would seem as though at the time of His soon return, there will be a great lack of this kind of prayer among His own people. They do not pray such prayer because they have no faith. They speculate that it is too big and too difficult a thing to cast Satan from heaven into the bottomless pit and then the lake of fire. Since the promise that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16.20) has yet to be fulfilled after twenty centuries, how can I expect God to finish off Satan through my prayer? What the Lord Jesus means by His word is that at the time of His imminent return people will lack faith in praying about this matter. However, the last days is the time when we should so pray. Can we be the few faithful ones who, in the days when such prayer is so rare, offer up prayers against the devil so as to cause him to lose position and power? We know in the last days Satan and his evil spirits are to be exceptionally active in their operations. Therefore, we must pray more than ever against him and overthrow his government. Speaking truthfully, there is no greater work which God’s children could do today than this work. Who is willing to pray against Satan for the sake of God and himself?
“Strive thou, O Jehovah, with them that strive with me: fight thou against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that pursue me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. Let them be put to shame and brought to dishonor that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and confounded that devise my hurt. Let them be as chaff before the wind, and the angel of Jehovah driving them on. Let their way be dark and slippery, and the angel of Jehovah pursuing them. For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit; without cause have they digged a pit for my soul…. Stir up thyself, and awake to the justice due unto me, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord” (Ps. 35.1-7,23).